Julian had a childhood friend named Lucy. One day, he came home with one of those kindergarten drawings with a little girl and diamonds and presented it to his father. John asked him what the drawing was, and Julian replies, “It’s Lucy and the sky with diamonds.” Thus, the song.
You can take some core facts, and given those facts, you can make some assumptions, correlations, and logical guesses. But at the end, assumptions, correlations and logical guesses don’t get you anywhere but a certain probability of correctness. With John Lennon and the Beatles song, you have Lucy and the Sky with Diamonds (LSD) in an age where the Beatles were probably high every night. For decades, this has been the thinking of what was behind this song. In reality, the truth is more innocent.
Operational reports present the same challenges. I define operational reports against analytics. Operational reports are typically one or two dimensional in nature, present a set of data that is static in time. While you can make some pretty good guesses as to what is going on in your organization, operational reports don’t present the type of deep digging that you can do in analytics to really identify root causes.
Turnover is often the easiest example. If you have a turnover rate by department, you can figure out where your highest turnover is and do something about it. But if you have trended analytics, you can see how turnover is shifting over time throughout your organizations, dig into each organization into a number of factors such as gender, age, tenure, and specific job types or look into the turnover performance of individual managers. It’s not that you can’t do this with operational reports, but each report is run individually rather than sitting in a single “cube” of data.
Any reporting is great, and operational reports utilized correctly present a spectrum of facts that can then be further interpreted to a fairly close degree of statistical accuracy. But it amazes me still, how many organizations are not going out there and spending the money to do real analytics and decisions support.
We’ve been talking about the “seat at the table” for too long – how talent strategies make HR a real business partner to the core needs of our organizational leaders. But as much as we talk about that seat, 80% or more of the large organizations that I visit still don’t have good, detailed decision support tools in a comprehensive and coherently deployed manner. You have to have a strategy around these tools, implement them well, and then actually know how to use them in a cross-functional manner with some business (not technical) sense behind it. Let’s get moving already, people!